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Head of Massachusetts' Marijuana Board Voted Against Legalization

Last week, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker appointed an anti-marijuana legalization politician to the state's new Cannabis Control Commission. Even though it was an odd choice, some believed it wouldn't be a big problem since Baker couldn't appoint anyone else to the Commission, and it's possible that more marijuana-friendly appointees would be selected in the future.

Well, that didn't happen because the man appointed to lead the state's Cannabis Control Commission also voted against marijuana legalization.

Steven Hoffman was selected to lead the Cannabis Control Commission by Massachusetts Treasurer Deb Goldman. Hoffman previously worked for 12 years at Bain & Co., the private equity firm most famous for employing former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. A law passed by the state legislature required Goldman to appoint someone to the commissioner's position with a background in business and finance.

Hoffman will serve as five-year stint as chairperson of the commission. In a statement, he says he hopes to lead the commission "thoughtfully and responsibly as we implement the legalization of recreational marijuana in Massachusetts." A spokesperson for Goldman says they didn't know why Hoffman voted against the initiative to legalize recreational marijuana last fall.

Obviously it's concerning that the first two appointees to the board that will regulate Massachusetts' marijuana industry are anti-legalization. It certainly invokes suspicion of possible indifference to the success of the industry at best and sabotage at worst. Even if we assume the two appointees will work responsibly to make legalization go as smooth as possible, neither of them have any experience in the cannabis industry and will basically need to learn on the fly about all the intricacies of the business they're in charge of regulating. 

Democrat Attorney General Maura Healey will appoint one more member to the commission, and the final two members will be selected by Healey, Goldberg and Baker together. Unfortunately, Healey and Baker had previously spoken out against marijuana legalization, and Goldberg was seen as being the one who could possibly moderate their opinions. But her selection of Hoffman indicates she's following a similar train of thought as the others.


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